But it's this way, Tom; when I think of going over the water into those trenches, and when I think of the shells falling all around me; when I call to mind that men may be dying at my richt hand and on my left, blown all to smithereens, I get afraid, but after I have filled mysel' fou' of whisky I don't care. I know I ought to be ashamed of mysel'; I know, too, it's the wrang sort of courage.
While General Joffre held the Germans behind the four hundred miles of trenches, France made itself over into a society organized for war the new business kind of war which is waged in factory and railway terminal, not by gallant charges. "Organiser" has become in the Frenchman's vocabulary the next most popular word to "patrie." One implies, these days, the other.
I am told that the marching battalions of the National Guard, now in the trenches, are doing their work better than was expected. The generals in command are satisfied with them, but whether they will be of any great use for offensive operations, is a question yet to be solved. The clubs still keep up their outcry for "La Commune," which they imagine will prove a panacea for every evil.
"Hard to tell," was the quiet answer. "They're marching us toward their lines, though." This was indeed true, the advance being toward a section of the field beyond the German trenches whence, not long before, had come the searchlights and the hail of shrapnel. "Well, things didn't exactly turn out the way we expected," said Charlie.
This dramatic spectacle might well have warned their commander of the hopelessness of his attempt, but fixed in his resolve to thrust his opponent from his path, he gave the fatal order to charge, and twenty minutes later 3,000 of his best troops fell before the smoking trenches and the balance reeled back aghast at the useless sacrifice.
"It's an attack in force; hold your fire, mes enfants!" shouted the Commander of that section of the trenches in which Henri and Jules were stationed. "See them! Thousands of Boches coming from the trees and marching towards us. Hold them a little while, my comrades, and then we shall repay them for all that we have suffered.
Two battalions of the Royal Scots carried a couple of the enemy's trenches in fine style and stuck to them, but the rest of the Brigade lost a number of good men to no useful purpose in their push against H.12. One thing is clear. If the bombardment was ineffective, from whatever cause, then the men should not have been allowed to break cover. 30th June, 1915. Imbros. Writing in camp.
Naturally the latter was the more trying, but at this time the rum ration was served out; and it certainly prevented you from being frozen stiff and enabled you to get to sleep again if your duties did not keep you to the trenches. A very curious life in the trenches, a very small world but every bit of it packed full of interest and novelty to me.
I know only that there is a fatherless girl working and praying in a hospital in England, and a fatherless boy fighting and praying in the muddy trenches near Ypres, and a lonely woman walking and praying under certain great beech-trees at the Chateau d'Azan. The burden of their prayer is the same.
The enemy were almost in worse plight and so we took prisoners, but as soon as we came up against nerveless, tireless machine guns we had to stagger back to our trenches. As I write dead quiet reigns on the Peninsula, literally dead quiet.